The Prince of Wales Museum, as it was still known when we visited, is set in beautiful gardens planted with palm trees, shrubbery and flower beds . The gardens contain a number of important sculptures, ceramic art and other objects from the museum collection.
The building was designed in the early 20th century by George Wittet, architect of Gateway to India, in an amazingly,electic style - combining British Gothic/Victorian with Islamic domes and the delicate beauty of Mughal artistry. Its completion coincided with WW1 and I was astonished to learn that it first served as a military hospital before opening as a Museum in 1922.
We had only 2 hours to spend there; the Museum leaflet had helped us decide our separate priorities so after pausing to admire the impressive entrance hall we went our separate ways - I first to the Upper floor and the collection of miniatures.
This collection, which included illustrated maunsucripts, was breathtaking; I could see our agreed timetable slipping away and had to leave long before I wanted.
With only minutes to spare I dashed into the shop,bought a lot of cards with pictures of the paintings and left in time to join John at the exit. It was too short a visit but we both thought it better to concentrate on one or two collections than spend times dashing around the whole without really seeing anything.
Prince of Wales Museum is the erstwhile name of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya of Mumbai.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Museum has Indo-Saracenic style of architecture. Museum is an important cultural and education centre that certainly deserves a visit.
NOTE: The Admission fees to Prince of Wales Museum for foreigners are Rs300. which is extremely high. See more pics for the price tag. If you want to take picture, another Rs200. (Jun 09)
Formerly the Prince of Wales Museum, Mumbai's primary museum is now officially called the mouthful Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya. Small wonder locals still use the old name, much as they still call their city Bombay. The Prince of Wales Museum was named after the Prince, and future King George V himself, who laid the foundation stone of the building in 1905. Its inauguration was delayed until 1922 because of WWI when the building temporarily served as a military hospital. The magnificent multi-domed building was designed by the same Scottish architect responsible for the Gateway of India, George Wittet, who successfully blended Gothic, Islamic and Hindu architecture to produce what was becoming the signature style in Bombay at the time, dubbed Indo-Saracenic. The museum houses a rare collection of mostly Indian artefacts.
The armoury is located in a small gallery on the second floor and includes swords, daggers, shields and armour. The main attractions of the gallery are Allauddin Khilji's Khanda and Akbar's cuirass with shield, dated AD 1593.
The story of Indian Miniature painting begins with the manuscript illustrations on palm-leaf in the 10th century. Earliest miniatures on paper come from the western part of India and date back to the end of the 14th century. Even when paper was introduced, the artists preferred to follow the shape of earlier palm-leaf manuscripts and hence are horizontal in format. The style is characterised by angular draughtmanship and the use of direct colours particularly red, blue, yellow, white and black. Jain patrons of the 15th century preferred very opulent illustrations richly painted in gold. About 200 miniatures are on display on the first floor making it one of the best collections in the country.
These pieces have an Egyptian influence about them as they originate from ancient Mesopotamia (modern day Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran). They actually come from the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud and date from the first millenium BC.
These are the best pieces of Indian sculpture in the museum. They include pieces from Maharashtra, including the Dvarapala Yaksha dating from the 2nd century BC, Gujarat, including the Garuda dating from the late 11th century AD, and Karnataka, including several 7th century AD pieces.
After entering through the main entrance, if you turn to the right and walk down an outside passageway, you'll come to the first part of the museum's Indian sculpture collection. The main part of this collection is held in a large room inside the right wing of the building.
This is a must visit museum whilst visiting Mumbai. The Prince of Wales Museum, now known as the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, is located at the southern end of the Fort area, not far from the Gateway of India. It was designed in grand Indo-Saracenic style by George Wittet to commemorate King George V's first visit to India in 1905 when he was still Prince of Wales. During World War I, it served as a military hospital and was formerly inaugurated in 1923.
The museum's collection is displayed over three floors. The ground floor houses an impressive collection of Indian sculpture dating from the 2nd century BC and Pre and Proto Indian History relief carvings that have Egyptian influences. There is also a large Natural History section. The first floor hosts a large collection of Indian miniature paintings, decorative art in the form of ivory, bronze, jade and jewellery; and a great collection from Nepal and Tibet. The second floor has a large collection of far eastern art with loads of Chinese and Japanese pots and plates, furniture and snuff bottles. There is also an armoury section and two wings full of European paintings. The admission includes an audio tour guide which is fairly good. More photo's can be found in my travelogues.
Open: 10.15am - 5.45pm Tues-Sun. Closed Mondays. Admission: Rs300 for foreigners and Rs30 for camera.
Ornamentation taken off old buildings frequently comes to a museum such as this, to avoid damage by theives, vandals, and the harsh monsoon weather of India. There are several wonderful mural sized stone reliefs here, as well as several smaller door lintels and other building ornamentation taken from archeological sites and ruined temples.
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